Terra-cotta cookware is clay, which means it is porous. This lets food cook evenly, rather than from the bottom up or top down, like many other methods of cooking. Any type of food that can be cooked in a pot can be heated in terra-cotta cookware, making each dish tender, juicy and flavorful. The gradual heating of the pot allows you to let your food cook for hours without checking on it and without fear it will burn.
Soak the pot in water for 12 hours. Drain the pot; dry completely.
Rub the bottom of the pot with garlic. Fill the pot with water until it reaches ½-inch below the rim. Add ½ cup vinegar. Place the pot on the stove over the lowest heat setting -- high heat may cause the pot to crack. Bring the water and vinegar mixture to a slow boil.
Boil the mixture down to about a half a cup. Remove the pot from the burner. Let the pot cool. This curing process hardens the cookware, preventing the fragile pot from cracking in high heat.
Prepare the food; place it in the pot.
Fill the pot with the amount of water or other liquid called for in the recipe.
Put the lid on the pot. Place the pot in the center of an unheated oven.
Set the oven 50 degrees higher than the temperature recommended in the recipe.
Heat the dish for 15 to 20 minutes longer than the recipe recommends.
Remove the pot from the oven. Place the pot on a cloth pad. Avoid setting the pot on a cool surface, which could cause breakage.
Soak the pot in warm, soapy water for five to 10 minutes.
Clean the pot with a soft scrub brush.
Allow to air dry completely.
When cooking fish, line the bottom of the pot with parchment paper to prevent the fish from sticking to the pot.
Never place the pot in an already heated oven. The sudden temperature change could crack or shatter the pot.